About Me

Wells, BC, Canada
Richard is a working photographer and writer in B.C. His camera focuses on natural history. archeology, travel, and documentary photography. His photography blog may be found at: http://richardtwright.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

London Eye - Leaving London for another 7 months

My bags are packed and ready to go. Heathrow here I come. I am likely over weight but by juggling a few heavy items into my carry-ons I will likely make it through. The only things extra I have are a 128G 1000x Lexar CF card and a new card reader, a Lexar USB 3 that will not work with the new Mac OS Mavericks.
My family goodbyes are said until summer and then likely another journey here to London in the fall. Time to rest my plantar fasciitis crippled feet.

Now it is home for a couple of weeks of meetings, intensive editing and uploading to agencies and then a month's journey south to Utah and Arizona to catch a few more warm sunrises and sunsets.

This will be my last London posting for awhile. Oh, except I do have to mention at some point our evening at the Scotch Single Malt Association courtesy of my son. Back to that later.

Now it is time for some travel blogs on what has become my favorite photographic site - Malta.
So stay tuned.

Sign up as a follower or Like my Facebook page if you are interested.

D800, 16-35mm f4 Nikkor at 16mm, f4, 1/8 sec, hand-held, minor post-processing Aperture 3.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Photographing Big Ben, iconic London landmark and camera security

If the line up and crowding at the riverside wall of London's embankment is any indication there are two iconic London landmarks that everyone has to have a selfie or a twosie of - Tower Bridge and Big Ben with the parliament buildings.
First of all it is a challenge to find the right angle, then to find a space at the rail and then to hold that space. This is clearly a time to have an assistant.
I have developed a security protocol over the years but it is still nice to have someone to watch your back when you have an open pack with $10 grand worth of equipment opened up.
First, I keep my camera strap clipped to my pack shoulder-strap with a carabiner. If anyone wants to grab and run they have to drag me along. Plus, this means I can let the camera go if need be and have two free hands.
If and when I take my pack off I clip it to a railing with a 'biner or with the assistance of two foot length of light cable I carry. The thin cable with a loop at each end goes around a post or a bench rail and clips to my pack or tripod, again with one of 3 large carabiners. If I lay the pack down for even a moment I put my foot through the strap.
I try not to turn my back on gear but it could happen - such as when a tourist family asked me to move, "oh and please sir, be moving your camera as well," while they take endless shots of each other.
For what it is worth I also try to take a little more aggressive stance and look (which is hard for an old guy to do) with a wool cap, gear jacket, monopod (read baton) in hand and a determined look.  And, I keep aware of what is going on around me.
Those selfies? I often get asked to take others photos but before I do I size them up to make sure I am not being scammed by snatch and run thieves. So far in 50 years of photos is has worked - knock on wood.
Using the London turnstile toilets, by the way, can be a challenge to get through with a pack and gear - and you have to keep 20p and 50p coins in your pocket as the attendants can be a little aggressive. I saw one arguing with a 12-year old boy about whether he had paid - getting really nasty with him. She finally let him through when I looked over and started to pay his pee fee.

But when all is done the London Thames embankment is great place for photography - particularly at night.
The parliament buildings and Big Ben on the north bank of the Thames in London. Copyright 2014 Richard Wright.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm f2.8 AF V1 Nikkor, 86mm, f3.2, 6 sec (using self-timer for release), manual focus, Manfotto carbon fibre tripod. Shot in TIFF so only minor post processing with Aperture 3.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blackfriers Bridge, London - Night shooting.

The arc of steel and light drew me to this photo last week while shooting along the London embankment of the Thames. I was mainly walking to get some unusual shots of St. Pauls, seen on the right side of the bridge but the blue light drew my left eye.
At 5 sec. I find this is about my limit for not using a tripod or clamp of some kind.

Nikon D800, 16-35mm f4, at 16mm, ISO 200, f4, 5 sec.Manfrotto monopod.  Post processing in Aperture 3.

Friday, February 21, 2014

London Embankment Photo shoot - How to.

I have been in London the last few weeks and one of my projects was night photography along the Embankment, trying to get good night shots of most of the tourist and historical attractions. My favorite night was Tuesday when my granddaughter Annabelle joined me. She is interested in photography and has a good eye so she was busy clicking away on her iPhone and guiding us to the next stop or the subway with her Google maps.
The main issue these nights was the tourist crowds as it is mid-year break and folks were literally elbowing each other, and me, aside to get the shot they wanted. And tooooo many folks asked me to take their photo. Normally I am happy to do this - in exchange for them allowing me to take their photo with my camera as well. But in this situation I had to say no a few times as leaving my gear was a security risk.

This shot was on the south side. The pavement was wet with rain, which actually helped as it lent a reflection to the cobblestone path and clouds in the sky for the city lights to reflect against. I explained to Annabelle that the pavement was a little blown out so I waited until fast pedestrians washed away some of the highlights with their movement during the 2 sec. exposure. Then I placed Annabelle at the railing - that didn't work. So I moved her over to the tree where the street light would light her face.
In the background is St. Paul's cathedral - which still needs the highlights brought down a little but in the hi-res version it is fine.
Settings: D800, Nikon 16-35 F4 at 35mm, ISO 200, f4.5, 2.5 sec. Manfrotto carbon fibre tripod with Gitzo head. Setup - 15 minutes.
Limited post production. I brought down the highlights a lumen or two, brought up the shadows a little and added a little vibrancy and saturation - all in Aperture 3.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

D800 Viewfinder repaired

My trusty D800 is back in my hands after being repaired by Fixation in London.

It turns out that the likely cause was a small set screw located just behind the flash shoe that holds the viewfinder assembly in place. A poster on LinkedIn suggested that air travel's high vibrations can work the screws loose.

The Digital Photo Academy: <http://www.digitalphotoacademy.com/DpaObjects/viewTip/18169>
suggests the following:
"Airplane Vibrations and Heat: Cameras are subject to high frequency vibration from airline engines. A camera repair technician told me they see this all the time. The vibrations loosen all the screws etc. Cameras should never be placed loose on the floor of an airplane and there should be lots of padding in the bottom of the case if it goes under the seat. I add a layer of high-density foam (extra computer mouse pads) to the bottom of my camera bags for this reason. I once boarded a small island hopper twin prop plane that had virtually NO carry-on baggage space. I stopped the baggage handlers as they were about to put my camera bag in a stowage space located in the wing directly above the engine. The cameras would have been shaken apart. I hung the cameras around my neck to avoid any problems. If you are ever on a small island hopper flight that is full and has too much luggage make sure yours is not the bag left behind. They will sometimes do this and ship the excess baggage on the next flight. It’s better to grease the guy $20 than to risk never seeing your equipment again. I had to do this in the Australian outback."

Years back when I was doing a lot of helicopter and fixed wing flying for wildlife filming I used the trick of putting a dab of nail polish on screws. This fixes the screw in place but is easy to snap loose should a repair be necessary. However, I don't know how this might work on today's plastic lenses and bodies.
It is a good idea however, to carry a set of jewelers screwdrivers and check camera and lens screws periodically.

Fixation made the repair in four days, though we had some issues with my phone and email in the UK so it took a week total turn around. Fortunately I was able to borrow by son's D800 for a few days so did not miss out on shooting.
Fixation is one of the most interesting camera shops I have been to. First of all it is hard to find and there is no address posted and no signage.

They are in the Vauxhall region of London - interestingly just a few blocks from where my grandfather was brought up. But, a little hard to find. To be fair their online direction do lead you to the mysterious "Unit C".
Evidently the reasoning is that they want to deal only with professionals so want to be low key.
Well, they are indeed.
Once there we are let in through a security door by a receptionist who then directs us to the showroom. At one end is the repair and rental counter. Spaced though out the modest showroom are four desks where customers are greeted and served. They have a good stock of used equipment, a great selection of tripods and gear bags and a stock of Nikon and Canon new equipment.
Look them up at:

Add them to your list of where to get a camera repaired in London.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nikon D800 viewfinder falling apart!

So here I was in Veletta, Malta, last week, wandering the narrow cobble-stoned streets, gazing upwards at the balconies that hung precipitously from every apartment. I raised my D800 to photograph a statue and ... lo and behold my viewfinder was gone - like gone, disappeared, not there. I was looking at the innards of the camera. Rather scary actually. Momentary panics with 3 weeks of travel left.

However, a quick frame or two and I found that everything still worked. Several thousand miles from home that was good news.
I was here with my son Richard, also a photographer using a D800 and a Mamiya film camera. This journey was his idea and his planning. So, we retraced our steps to the last place we could think it might have fallen out - the street toilet, the sunglasses shop, the cathedral - walking with our heads down scanning the cobblestones, looking like a pair of shorebirds searching for insects. No luck.

Okay, so it works, now we need to keep the dust and possible pigeon poop out of the innards.
Rich comes up with the idea of a post card. We buy one and borrow some scotch tape to cover the opening. Back in business.
That night back at our hotel in St Julian we borrow some stronger packing tape from the front desk and effect another repair. (We have to do this almost daily.) Not pretty but it works.

We came with a more elaborate plan of siliconing a hotel key card and an eyepiece to the back, but could not find silicon.
Then I dropped a note to the LinkedIn Nikon Photographers Group seeking info on this event. No one had heard of such a thing. In fact one chap wondered if I had dropped it - no; and another if it had been treated roughly - no; and finally a suggestion that it was not broken , just the eyepiece removed - another big no.
At the same time I sent off a note to Fixation, the Nikon repair shop in London - where my son lives.
The next morning they had replied. They had ordered the part and would repair it as soon as I reached London. Now that is service!
Tomorrow I take it in for servicing.
The question is, Nikon, why and how did this happen to a $3000 camera?
What breaks next?
Stay tuned for the after servicing post.
The view from our room in St. Julian